Blend it like Nandagopal
By Prarthna Sarkar
21st July 2012 12:32 PM
Perhaps sculptor S Nandagopal had no inkling that a degree in Physics would one day come in handy while making life-sized sculptures. As you enter his artistically inspired house, you wouldn’t fail to notice the tiny stone sculptures carefully mounted on knee-high cement pillars. Nor the myriad sculptures on either side of the aisle, which might warrant a fantasy trip for the overtly imaginative types.
Nandgopal while recalling his early days and a thread of events which formed the bedrock of his identity, fondly remembers, “After completing my graduation in Physics from Loyola College, I joined the ceramics section at the College of Arts and Crafts, Madras. Then I moved to painting and finally took to sculpting.”
His initials are hardly a clue to his famous father. “I have never used my father’s name to establish myself in the art sphere,” says Nandgopal. In fact, when the latter first won a national award, someone asked him as to why he never mentioned his dad was KCS Panicker, one of the spearheads of the Madras Art Movement.
Sipping his cup of piping hot coffee, Nandgopal recalls how he took to sculpting. “My paintings had become rather stiff and were going nowhere. It was around that time that the school sent out an order asking every student to enroll in a regular crafts work course, after which things turned for me.” Nandagopal began spending most of his time in the craft studios where metal work, jewellery, textile printing, enamelling and the like was being taught. The studios were also frequented by top-notch sculptors such as Anila Jacob, Kanhai Kumhiraman and Late PV Janakiram which, Nandagopal says was ‘crucial’ in shaping his career.
Nandagopal’s father being one of the leading figures of the art movement, he had no choice but to take it forward. But the movement helped him in more ways than one as having watched it closely he has successfully absorbed the richness of Indian culture and moulded it to his liking. His sculptures, he says “are a mix of both Indian and contemporary”.
A peek into his studio and some of the rooms in his house reveal several life-like sculptures, some in shiny silver and some in gorgeous copper, some over 40-years-old and some just a few years old.
Talking about his work, he says, “It is impossible to look back into the past and contemplate the future at the same time. In my works, you will see a blend of Indian culture and contemporary art.” His figures mostly resemble deities from Hindu mythology, but his themes are very contemporary.
Speaking of which, his current sculpture is anointed ‘Bee Keeper’ for it has postures similar to that of Hindu deities. Lying uncoated and unpolished in the studio, the gigantic sculpture exudes incredible charm. Nanadagopal says, “Earlier I had great difficulty getting the sketch ready for my sculpture, but now I get it photocopied on the size of my choice.” He then takes out a sheet of paper where he had drawn a rough sketch of the sculpture and adds, “My drawing classes have come in handy.”
The talented sculptor is also clued in to films, music and politics.Perhaps, from the mundane come ideas sublime.
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